The Rev. Dr. Beth McCaw named Dean of University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

She’ll also serve as Vice President at the University of Dubuque

by University of Dubuque | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Beth McCaw

DUBUQUE, Iowa — After a national search, the University of Dubuque has named Rev. Dr. Beth McCaw, who currently serves as associate professor of ministry at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, as dean of the seminary and vice president of the university. The appointment will begin on Jan. 1, 2024.

“I am pleased to appoint Rev. Dr. Beth McCaw as the next dean of seminary,” said the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Bullock, president of the University of Dubuque. “Beth’s experience as a pastor, international missionary, executive presbyter, and seminary professor equips her with the tools and the vision to ably lead UDTS well into its bright future. Beth’s steady faith and dependable approach to servant leadership ensures that our seminary will continue its commitment to serve local congregations, even as it adapts to the emerging and yet-to-be clarified space of mainline theological education.”

Dr. Mark Ward, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at the University of Dubuque, added, “Rev. McCaw is ideally suited to lead the seminary at this juncture. She has the respect of her colleagues and the broader church. Her passion for equipping individuals of varying backgrounds to minister in the church aligns with UDTS’s longstanding commitment to ‘Many Gifts, One Spirit, all serving the church and world.’”

McCaw began her service to UDTS nearly 20 years ago in 2004 when she was called as pastor to students and assistant professor of ministry. She was promoted to associate professor of ministry in 2017. Since then, she has taught ministry with special attention given to caregiving, mission, and congregational life. She also serves on the Wendt Character Initiative’s Advisory Board.

In 2020, McCaw earned the 2020 William L. Lomax Award and, as such, was a recipient of the 2020 Faculty Hall of Fame for Excellence in Teaching and Advising. Recently, she was a major author on a proposal that received $1.25 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish Plentiful Gifts: Nourishing Members for the Flourishing of Small Member Congregations.

“I continue to be thankful for a vocation filled with meaning in a time of urgent need in God’s world, and to serve among a faculty, staff, and wider university that is flexible, creative, gifted, and enthusiastic in response to our shared call,” McCaw said. “UDTS is particularly strong in our nurture of love of God in community. I learned at UDTS that relationships knit together by the spiritual realities described in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together” are blessed, durable, nourishing, and fruitful. They are worthy of time and energy and grace — and God is glorified in them and is at work through them.”

From 2019 to 2022, McCaw was on part-time release from UDTS to serve as executive presbyter of Glacier Presbytery in western Montana, where she led a judicatory as part of bi-vocational ministry and explored, among other items, new forms of church for small congregations.

Prior to coming to UDTS, McCaw served as associate pastor of care and outreach at Faith Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Florida.

“I appreciate UDTS’s cherishing of ‘the gospel centered life,’” McCaw said. “For decades, I have signed my name with ‘yours in Christ.’ The ministries in which I have been engaged have varied — mental health counselor and administrator, new church development missionary, congregational minister of care and outreach, pastor to students, presbytery leader, and associate professor of ministry. Regardless of role, the core call has proven to be the same — being grounded in a baptismal identity and community in Christ; being sent with others to make known in word and deed the good news of God’s love in Christ for the healing of the world. Those are always the same across tasks: the same fuel, the same vision, the same promise.”

An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), McCaw holds a Doctor of Ministry and Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

“This is a time of great flux in the world, in theological education, in the church, and in UDTS,” McCaw said. “We have strong faculty and staff gifts around the table to continue to create offerings promising and relevant for this moment. Some of those gifts and guidance were in President Jeffrey Bullock’s New Day Dawning vision; some of them have been called for by a church in a society in crisis. One metaphor I use in leadership is knitting. There is much creative knitting to do right now. Judiciously pulling together threads to knit something cohesive, glorifying to God and of service is an essential art for us in our call.”

McCaw is married to Scott McCaw, a high school teacher. They have three children: Bobby, Tim, and Evangeline.


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